NBA strengthens Oculus ties with official VR headset designation

NBA strengthens Oculus ties with official VR headset designation

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  • Oculus partnership includes WNBA and G League
  • Facebook-owned platform named presenting partner for playoff games on ESPN, ABC, and TNT
  • Deal is Oculus’ inaugural multi-year sponsorship with a sports league

The National Basketball Association (NBA) has named Facebook-owned virtual reality (VR) platform Oculus as an official marketing partner of the league.

The multi-year deal will see Oculus serve as the first ever VR headset partner of the NBA, as well as the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and NBA G League development competition.

The agreement expands on the NBA’s existing content-based tie-up with Oculus, which saw Verizon-owned Ryot make live games from the NBA’s restart available for subscribers to the League Pass over-the-top (OTT) service via Oculus Venues on Quest and Go VR headsets.

The new marketing deal designates Oculus as the presenting partner of the NBA Rail Cam Replay for playoff games shown on ESPN, ABC and TNT, which will now be billed as the ‘Oculus Front Row View’.

In addition, Oculus will become an associate partner of the NBA Draft and NBA Crossover at the league’s All-Star game, as well as the WNBA’s Believe in Women platform and the NBA G League End of Season tournament.

Oculus signage will also be present throughout the ESPN Wide World of Sports and IMG Academy venues as the current NBA and WNBA seasons continue in Florida.

The deal marks Oculus’ first multi-year sponsorship of a sports league, as well as the first time the NBA has had an official VR headset partner.

Rob Shaw, Facebook’s director of sports media and league partnerships, said: “The NBA has a strong history of using virtual reality to connect people in ways that weren’t possible before – and that’s never been more important than it is now.

“We’re thrilled for Oculus to be an official partner of the NBA, WNBA and NBA G League and look forward to helping more fans experience the beauty of professional basketball in VR.”

Julie Morris, the NBA’s vice president, media and business development, added: “We’re thrilled for Oculus to be an official partner of the NBA, WNBA and NBA G League and look forward to helping more fans experience the beauty of professional basketball in VR.

“This partnership furthers our ongoing commitment to engage with fans of the NBA, WNBA and NBA G League in new and innovative ways. Together with Oculus, we will create new experiences for our fans while also bringing them closer to the action through Oculus’ state-of-the-art VR devices.”

Staying with the NBA, the league has announced a marketing partnership with food delivery firm DoorDash.

The deal sees DoorDash become the official on-demand delivery platform of the NBA, the WNBA and NBA 2K League.

The start of the agreement, which is the first of its kind for the three leagues, will coincide with the beginning of the 2020 NBA Playoffs. The deal also represents DoorDash’s first league-level tie-up in sports.

The California-based company’s first activation is the launch of its #PlayItForward Challenge, a new social media campaign designed to unite communities and encourage fans to support black-owned restaurants.

As part of the initiative, DoorDash will donate US$1, up to US$100,000, to the National Urban League for every order placed to a black-owned restaurant using the DoorDash platform. The company will also offer US$0 delivery fees from all merchant partners in its campaign to support black-owned businesses.

The #PlayItForward Challenge is being supported on social media by more than ten NBA Players, including Bradley Beal, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Aaron Gordon, Jrue Holiday, CJ McCollum, Donovan Mitchell, Ja Morant, Jamal Murray and Dennis Schröder.

DoorDash will also become the first-ever presenting partner of the NBA 2K League Playoffs and Finals, executing in-game activations for the esports league that will bring fans special moments and relevant experiences through custom integrations and features. 

Additionally, DoorDash will aim to elevate the gameday experience for NBA, WNBA and NBA 2K League supporters through exclusive offerings, while also becoming an associate partner of future marquee events during NBA All-Star.

A new multi-platform advertising campaign titled ‘Food Is Life’, that spans TV, digital and social media, will feature fans enjoying the NBA action at home with food.

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